June 2, 2008 in Nation/World

World in brief:Two states OK autonomy measures

The Spokesman-Review
 

Bolivians in two opposition-controlled states voted overwhelmingly Sunday for autonomy measures that aim to shield the country’s remote Amazon basin from President Evo Morales’ leftist reforms.

The Amazonian states of Beni and Pando passed autonomy measures by more than 80 percent of the vote, according to preliminary vote counts released Sunday evening.

Morales’ quest to empower Bolivia’s long-oppressed Indian majority has alienated a more mixed-race population in the eastern lowlands and fueled old grudges against the national government.

Scattered clashes between autonomy backers and pro-Morales groups in the Beni state capital of Trinidad left about eight people injured, according to local media reports.

State leaders hailed the measure as the latest step in a growing decentralization push that opposition groups hope will provide a counterbalance to Morales’ populist government.

MONROVIA, Liberia

Several suffocate at soccer match

At least eight people suffocated at an overcrowded stadium during a soccer match between Liberia and Gambia on Sunday, a doctor and an aid worker said.

The 33,000-seat Samuel K. Doe stadium in Monrovia was packed beyond capacity for the World Cup qualifying match.

The rowdy crowd pushed up against a metal bar, causing the bar to snap and sending dozens of people careening onto the floor below. They fell onto others at the game, crushing them.

Hours before the start of the match, United Nations peacekeepers had closed the gates of the stadium when it became clear that the stadium was already beyond capacity.

Thousands of people entered using fraudulent tickets, stranding real ticket holders outside. Stadium officials could not differentiate between the real and fake tickets and already had allowed too many people to enter before they realized their mistake.

GENEVA

Anti-immigration initiative rejected

Swiss voters over- whelmingly rejected an anti-immigrant initiative that would have made it harder for foreigners to gain citizenship, according to referendum results released Sunday.

All but one of 26 Swiss cantons rejected the initiative by the nationalistic Swiss People’s Party, while in the overall population 63.8 percent voted against it, according to official results.

The initiative was aimed at overturning a Supreme Court ruling that barred the widely denounced practice in some Swiss communities of subjecting citizenship applications to a popular vote.

“The people clearly said: ‘We don’t want xenophobia, and we want direct democracy to respect basic rights,’ ” Swiss President Pascal Couchepin said on Swiss television SF.

People’s Party lawmaker Hans Fehr said he still believed the requirements for Swiss citizenship should be more stringent.


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